2024 looms as ‘increasingly bleak’ for children affected by armed conflicts and disasters - UNICEF

This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban – to whom quoted text may be attributed - at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

15 December 2023
On 30 August 2023 in Goa, Mali, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban visits a temporary learning space set up by UNICEF with BMZ support. These children are taking remedial classes to prepare for the start of the school year at the Bawa IDP site. Nearly 3,000 displaced people, more than half of whom are children, have fled violence, conflict and/or food insecurity and sought refuge in the camp.
UNICEF/UNI430630/N’Daou
On 30 August 2023 in Goa, Mali, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban visits a temporary learning space set up by UNICEF with BMZ support. These children are taking remedial classes to prepare for the start of the school year at the Bawa IDP site. Nearly 3,000 displaced people, more than half of whom are children, have fled violence, conflict and/or food insecurity and sought refuge in the camp.

GENEVA, 15 December 2023 – “In the entirety of my more than 25-year career with UNICEF, it is hard to recall a year in which the situation facing children affected by conflict and disaster has been as dire as the one we are currently witnessing. For humanitarian organizations, our work has rarely been as important, and may never have been more complex. The horrendous situation in Gaza, which shakes us to the core of our humanity, exemplifies this.  Earlier this week, UNICEF launched a US$9.3 billion emergency funding appeal to reach at least 93.7 million children in 155 countries.

“Yet at a time when humanitarian and protection needs have never been greater, we are approaching 2024 facing an increasingly bleak funding forecast. Flexible funding – which allows us to respond at a speed, scale and nimbleness only possible with this kind of funding – is shrinking, restricting our ability to respond quickly and ensure principled action based on needs. And humanitarian actors’ ability to safely reach affected populations where they are is increasingly at risk, as we continue to see attacks against humanitarian aid workers around the world.

“Throughout the year, children around the world have faced rampant violations and denials of their rights. In November, I spent a week in Ukraine, where I visited frontline areas in the Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions, and stressed the urgent need for continued humanitarian response in conflict-affected areas. In October, I went into Gaza where we have now seen unprecedented numbers of children reportedly killed in the continuing violence. In July, I met families in Sudan, where millions of children have been forced from their homes in what is now the largest child displacement crisis in the world.

“Beyond the headline-grabbing areas affected by conflict and other crises, there are other children suffering as well. This year I met children in need in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Chad and Mali. Such devastating conflicts, combined with a rise in climate-related disasters, disease outbreaks and displacement, mean children continue to endure the unimaginable impact of protracted crises and emerging threats.

“In all of these contexts, UNICEF is on the ground, providing children and families with essential life-saving aid, and exploring innovative new solutions to challenges that have plagued humanity for centuries. But at a time when humanitarian and protection needs have never been greater, we are concerned that our ability to meet the needs of children is going to come under significant strain. Critically underfunded emergencies include Sudan, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Haiti, Ethiopia, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Bangladesh. UNICEF and our partners are committed to providing a comprehensive response to the many humanitarian crises affecting children, but children should not be paying the price of our inaction with their lives and their futures. They need continued access to essential services, like health care, safe water, basic sanitation and education.

“When I was in Sudan, I met with Mahmoud a 12-year-old in a temporary learning centre outside of Attbara who was continuing to study through an e-learning programme set up by UNICEF but what he really wanted to do was return to his home in Khartoum. He showed me a drawing of his neighborhood which he did, complete with the bombed-out pharmacy across the street from his house and the parking lot where he and his friends played football, and he just wanted to go back. When I was in Gaza, the UNICEF Executive Director Cathy Russell and I met a 16-year-old girl in al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in Gaza who was hit by shrapnel in the back and who will never be able to walk again.  These children should not be going through this.  We live in a world where we need to do everything possible, work with every fiber in our body so that children like that don’t have to go through these kinds of situations.

Thank you.”

#####

Media contacts

Joe English
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 893 0692

Additional resources

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube